By Andia Dinesen, AFC ®
Military Saves Coordinator
I started babysitting around the time I was 12 years old for the same reasons that most adolescents get jobs: to earn some money independently of the allowance my parents gave me and to become more adult. It wasn’t much money, mind you, about $2 per hour for a few times a week, but it was more money that I was used to seeing at that age. Thankfully I had someone looking out for me: my mom. Every night when I came home from babysitting, my mom made me put the money I had earned into envelopes.
Envelopes in the Cupboard. One envelope was for the money I could spend, one was for the money I had to save, and a third for money I would donate. I vividly remember coming home each night and going straight to the cupboard to fill my envelopes with my “hard-earned” cash. I always had to save (significantly) more that I was allowed to spend. At the time, I didn’t see the wisdom in that; it was *my* money wasn’t it? In retrospect I am so happy that my mom forced me into dividing my income and starting to save so young because saving a fair-sized portion of what I make is now a natural tendency. In recent years, I have been thinking more and more about the envelopes in the cupboard and that I was lucky to learn about saving so young. It is starting to look as though my mom was definitely onto something (although, it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise to me.) Not only are adults trying to save more during the difficult economic period we are currently facing, but now the adolescents and teenagers have started becoming increasingly more “savings savvy.” Three teens recently scored exceptionally well on the National Financial Capability study stating that personal savings should be a priority for their peers.
Peer Pressure can be a Good Thing. When I see teens telling other teens that saving should be a priority it makes me smile. How much easier will it be to save money as a teenager, when “everyone is doing it!” The more our teens are educated and the more that they share that information and knowledge with each other, we all win. Knowing the benefits of savings, the risks of credit cards, and the knowledge about budgeting can really make such a huge difference once teens are off to college and out in the real world. The actual cost of these lessons can be astounding.
My daughters are already utilizing the envelope method with their allowance. And as they get closer to the age where they will start babysitting and beyond I hope they will be like those three teenagers and pressure her friends to save and start their own envelopes.